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CYCLE vacation in Crimea.
ARTICLE: "Marble Cave."

The whole Crimean peninsula is rich in various natural monuments. Mountainous massif Chatyr-Dag is one of the most interesting places in Crimea. The name of this mountain means “tent-mountain” in translation from the Turkic languages. A number of witty tourists consider the plateau of Chatyr-Dag to resemble Dutch cheese greatly, as all the massif is penetrated with lots of sinks, mines, wells, and vesicles.

One of the most popular caves is “Marble” Cave. It occupies 60% of total area and 40% of total volume of all the caves in this massif.
Marble Cave is one of the most beautiful caves not only in Crimea, but in the whole world. Due to abundance of stalactite and stalagmite adornments, development, as well as service support of visitors, Marble Cave belongs to 5 best caves in Europe. It is located not far from Alushta (7 km) at the altitude of 1000 meters above sea level in the lower plateau of Chatyr-Dag.

For hundreds of years in solid of marble limestone a cave of extraordinary beauty has been creating, that’s how the cave got its name. Nowadays, arble cave is a true natural underground museum, where right in front of visitors’ eyes incredible beauty, richness and unrivalness of genius sculptor which is nature itself opens: stone waterfalls, singer walls, cascades, small lakes, and deposits of cave pearls. For a long time the world of karst caves has been created in the darkness, but now we have a wonderful opportunity to have an insight into this world. Here you can breath easily, despite cold air (air temperature in the cave is +9°, relative degree of humidity – 98-100%), silence around, wet walls and floor. All these create an impression that you are in a mysterious frozen kingdom.

According to one of legends, this cave was discovered in 1987 by a shepherd looking for a missing ship. From that very year Simferopol speleology center started to investigate, examine and protect the world of Marble cave. Due to a team of speleologists, a part of the cave is equipped for excursions. Today more than 2 kilometers of the cave have been explored at the depth of 60 meters, but investigations of speleology center were not limited to this, on the contrary, they started even more intensive work. The cave consists of a very complicated system of huge halls and galleries, decorated with dripstones of various form and rare types of chrystals.
Since 2006, several most beautiful halls are open for guided tours in the lower part of the cave, they are «Hall of Hope», «Luster Hall», «Fairy Tales Gallery», «Tiger’s Path», «Pearl Lakes», «Pink Hall», «Hall of Vernadsky», «Theatrical Hall». Excursions are accompanied by classical, jazz or electronic music is playing which creates a special atmosphere.

Bards‘ Festival in Marble cave has already become a tradition. As a rule, about 300 participants from different countries of CIS gather together. Various musical bands and individual performers of Jazz and brass music often have their performances in concert hall of the Marble cave. And in winter a ski trail with a chairlift operates here, and those wishing to ride a snowmobile can do it.

All guided tours around Marble cave start with the hall «Fairy Tales Gallery», that is decorated with abundance of marble statues, resembling heroes of fairy tales, such as Dragon’s Head, Mammoth, little Elephant, Grandfather Frost, Princess-frog and many others. But the statue which attracts greatest attention is «the Host of Cave» which is a huge stalagmite of a whimsy form located in the center of the hall. Superstitious speleologists think that the Host can be easily insulted by a rude deed or word, so in order to avoid anger of a mighty spirit of Marble cave you should be very careful and respectful.
From «Fairy Tales Gallery» the path leads to «Tiger’s Path». This hall was discovered a year later than the cave itself due to the fact that the entrance to it was hidden under the thick layer of calcite. Though speleologists discovered Tiger’s path later, it is circa one and a half million years older than Marble cave. Its name the gallery obtained due to remains of a big carnivorous animal found at the bottom of its four-meter well. The first scientists’ suggestion was that discovered remains belong to a sabretoothed tiger, but later on they specified that it was a cave lion. But by that time the initial name «iger’s Path» had already spread, so it was decided to save the name unchanged.
Internal decoration of «iger’s Path» Gallery is rich and picturesque. Sinters and columns divide it into small halls. Ceiling, floor, and walls of this gallery are decorated with fantastic stone roses, and gigantic blocks of limestone sparkle with crystal planes. Mysterious skeletons of ancient animals can be seen under the stones.
«Hall of Hope» is really beautiful. It is decorated with stone waterfalls, sinking from the walls. The biggest and the most impressive in the Lower gallery of Marble cave is Balcony hall, its twelve-meter bench divides the hall into two floors. Walking past stone dwarfs, you can see Luster hall appearing right in front of you, which is excellent in its beauty and is decorated with a lot of precious «lusters» covered with coral «flowers» hanging from the gallery ceiling and stalactite «forest» formed by hundreds of thin transparent calcite tubes. Then follows Bed, Gelict, Chocolate and Fall halls.
Palace hall is very interesting and popular among visitors of Marble cave; it is decorated with statues of King, Queen, and their cortege.

Nowadays, mass media provides a lot of photos, history of Marble cave, you can watch a film about it, but all these are nothing in comparison with the emotions and impressions you get from seeing the beauty of this cave in reality.

By Marina Melnichenko

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